Longs Peak

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Trail Stats & Info

RT length 15.0 miles
Elevation gain 5,100 feet
Difficulty strenuous (Class 3)
Lowest elevation 9,442 feet
Highest elevation 14,255 feet
Trail type out & back
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 200
Restrooms @ TH? yes
Boulder Fields
Summit of Longs Peak

Directions

From Denver or Boulder, take Hwy 36 to Lyons. At Lyons, take Main Street until a T-intersection. At the end of the road, take a left onto 5th Ave or S. St. Vrain St. Follow this road which becomes CO 7 passing the town of Allenspark. Then, take a left onto Longs Peak Road. Follow this road to the Longs Peak trailhead, which is also where the Ranger Station is located.

Note: Parking is limited and can get full quickly as this is a very popular trail. There is a campground nearby and only campers can park in the campground area.


Photos

Description

This was our second attempt at this fourteener and we were determined to get to the summit even if it killed us. After letting a few years pass by to allow our memories fade of this long and grueling hike, we were finally able to revisit this hike and start planning for a successful summit. This time, we decided to not start at 1:00 am, as hiking in the dark for about 5 hours with only a view of a spot light on the trail from our headlamps and barely any sleep made us into half asleep zombies. This time, we drove to the trailhead the night before, slept in our car for about 4 hours and headed onto the trail at about 3:40 am. By this time, the parking lot was pretty full and many hikers had already hit the trail starting around 1:00 am. We were actually one of the late starters. After signing in at the registry, we started the long dark hike up. We were lucky that the weather was cooperating, as in there was minimal wind. This hike is notorious for severe and changing weather patterns. Our first attempt had strong winds and made the hike bitter cold and miserable. The combination of wind, cold, and no sleep resulted in us turning around at Boulder Field. After a few hours of hiking, a trail junction appears for Chasm Lake. Turn right as you start the long traverse on the northeast slope of Mt. Lady Washington to Granite Pass. The sun slowly started to rise as we were on the traverse just below Granite Pass. Above treeline, there was some wind, but it was very tolerable. I highly recommend wearing a lightweight down jacket as this kept me warm versus Jake who was cold although he was wearing several layers including a windproof soft shell fleece, but no down jacket.

Longs Peak, Keyhole

Keyhole

Once we got to Granite Pass, there is another trail junction. Turn left here and stay on East Longs Peak trail. From here there are several long switchbacks that will bring you up to Boulder Field. Boulder Field is about 6 miles from the trailhead and is a wide flat field of large boulders. From here, you can see Longs Peak and “The Keyhole”. There is camping at Boulder Field, but you need to make reservations in advance. There are also two toilets here, but I recommend that you bring your own toilet paper as they were out when I used them. Boulder Field is a good place to stop and take a much needed break, as the last mile and a half up to the summit is much more strenuous and is Class 3 hiking. From here, continue towards The Keyhole and try to follow the various scattered cairns which will lead you up to The Keyhole. Just next to The Keyhole is a rock shelter if you need to take a break from the wind or rain. When you get to The Keyhole, this part of the trail is now considered Class 3. From The Keyhole, make your way carefully to the left and follow the trail along with bull’s-eye marks that are painted onto the rocks. From here to the summit, find and follow the bull’s-eyes.
Trough, Long Peak

Top of The Trough

This section of the trail, which are mostly ledges, will lead you to “The Trough”. At The Trough, the trail pretty much goes up to a ridge and there are several routes to get up there. There is no distinct trail, but try to follow the bull’s-eyes. The last section of The Trough, just before you hit the ridge, is a steep slab of rock and is the most difficult section of The Trough. There is a thin rope in place that you can use, or some hikers carefully scramble up a small crack in the rock to the right. Once at the top of The Trough, you are now at the start of “The Narrows”. At The Narrows, the trail is a little bit more exposed, but nothing too scary. Jake, who has a fear of heights, never felt uncomfortable and was easily able to negotiate this section. If you run into other hikers, you’ll need to carefully maneuver around them on these ledges. At the end of The Narrows, you’ll be at the base of The Homestretch, which you can see above you.
Home Stretch

The Homestretch

The Homestretch is the last section until the summit. This section is definitely Class 3, but I would say easy Class 3. The rock is very stable and we never felt like we were going to fall off or slide off as the rock as it was completely dry. Carefully make your way up one of the many cracks in the rock, or you can just smear on the slabs. This area can be tricky if there are a lot of other hikers trying to make their way up or down. The photos of this section look much more scarier and harder than what it really is. Obviously, this section will be much more difficult if the rock is icy or wet. Once you’re at the top of The Homestretch, you’ve reached the summit of Longs Peak! The summit is very broad and flat. On one of the large and highest boulders is a benchmark and a PVC pipe with a log. After enjoying the views, eating a snack, and being proud of your accomplishment, it’s time to head down. Take the same route, and carefully scramble down The Homestretch, to The Narrows, and to The Trough, back to the Keyhole. It’ll be a long day, but well worth it. It took us about 7 hours to get to the summit and about 6 hours back to the trailhead. We definitely took our time getting down the Class 3 sections of the trail.

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About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"